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Feb 5, 2009

Color

I'd like to think and believe that I see no color. Dismiss color, dress, hair as extra's- not part of the equation- not part of my beliefs.

How can it not be?


In discussing Obama's election, Lincoln's birthday around the dinner table, Abe again, mentions how he would have been a slave because the color of his skin. While his heritage is part Mexican and not African, is he wrong? He is dark- darker than most Caucasians. Is there information out there about Mexicans being slaves at the same time as Africans. Would my 3 daughters and 1 son be considered sub-human, to be bought and sold, slaves? Were Asians included in the mix? I have no clue.

That Abe even has the thought in his head that he might have been a slave had he been born at another time strikes me. Slavery legally ended in 1865... That he, as a 6 year old, cannot have a true concept of time and that maybe 150 years ago might seem like a few days before he was born to him. How does he process that information? What does that feel like growing up knowing, believing that to be part of your history?

As a young white girl, learning about slavery, it was something I learned and dismissed with other pieces of historical information. It had no direct bearing for me- my ancestors weren't even in America during the time of slavery... The fact that the celebration around Obama's election makes me sad (that it is even an issue...) is that condescending towards Black/ African American people? That hearing the interview on NPR, where several people uttered their fears of Obama being killed because he is black, before he had a chance to take The Oath surprised me...

How do I confront those thoughts? How do I know if my words offend? My biased white girl outlook...


9 comments:

Kathryn said...

Unfortunately, I don't have any answers... but I thought that Abe might like the song "Why am I me?" from Shenandoah.
(here are the lyrics)

Why Am I Me?
(Originally sung by a white child and a black child in the Broadway musical “Shenandoah” with John Cullum)

Tell you what I’m thinkin’
Honestly and true…
How come I come to life as me
And not to life as you.

Lord, I know the feeling
‘Cause when I’m by myself
I wonder why
I’m who I am
And not somebody else

‘Way down underneath it all
Where no one gets to see
I’ll bet it feels no different
Bein’ you or bein’ me.

Why was I born
When I was born
Who I was born to be
Why was I given
The body I’m livin’ in?

Why am I Gabriel?
Why am I Anderson?
Why am I me, why am I me…

Why am I here
Why am I now
Why am I who you see
Why was I handed
The body I landed in

Why am I Gabriel? (So how come we’re all slaves…)
Why am I Anderson? (And how come we’re all free…)
Why am I me, why am I me, why am I me?

I figured
Somebody puts the “who” into folks,
Like dropping a stone in a lake
So maybe I’m thinkin’
I’m Abraham Lincoln
And somebody made a mistake?

If I were born
Somebody else
Betcha I still would be me
So many beings I know I could be me in.
Why must I be in the being you see me in?

(So how come we’re all slaves
And how come we’re all free)

Why am I me? (Repeated 6 times.)

http://youtube.com/watch?v=A8F58mlM-ew

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfDwIhP-0xo&NR=1

http://video.aol.com/video-detail/shenandoah-solo/38528...

http://www.cduniverse.com/search/xx/music/pid/1111130/a...

It's a great tune too!

Erika said...

What a wonderful, honest post. I took a class on diversity once...I remember clearly an exchange between a white woman and black woman in the class. We were talking about white privilege and the white woman, one of the most open-minded people I know, said that she doesn't see color -- that she's "color-blind". This upset the black woman so much and the white woman couldn't understand why. The white woman thought it to be a bad thing to see color b/c of how it's been used against people of color for centuries. The black woman's response was that by not seeing her color, we're ignoring & negating her reality, the reality of her ancestors, and everything it means to be black, particularly in this country. Not seeing her color serves us (white people) more than her b/c it pretends like all that horrible stuff (stuff that white people did to black people) never happened. As for Obama, I think one of the most dangerous by-products of his election is that white Americans will think that racism is resolved, that we've achieved the dream. But it doesn't work that way -- the dream is not an all-or-nothing thing. Certainly, his election was a giant step in the right direction, but it's just that -- a step in our ongoing pilgrimmage to true equality.

Tracey said...

Not raising children of different races, I can only offer how I've explained it to my own kids.

People have been making other human beings their slaves for thousands of years. Sometimes, it's based upon color. Sometimes, it's religion or social standing. People of ALL races have been slaves and slave owners. Try not to focus on just the USA's history of enslaving African Americans. Look to other historical periods for examples of how the human race has always fought this battle. In Mexico, the Spaniards enslaved the native groups. The Greeks and Romans. African tribes and Egyptian empires.

For some reason, our societies have always felt the need to make one group "better" than another. To validate ourselves by belittling another group.

It still continues today. My 9 year old just did a report on human trafficking in North Korea. It opened his eyes, just a bit, as to how far the world still has to go...

Ashlee said...

What a beautiful family you have! I have six children; its nice to know not everybody thinks I'm crazy! I just stumbled upon your site from flickr and wanted to say hi!

StephLove said...

We had some trouble getting our (white) 2nd grader to understand what the big deal was. I don't think we're in a color-blind society yet and I'm not even sure that would be a good thing, but I do think things are going to be much different for our kids. Having a President of color will be everyday for them, just part of the background of their childhoods. I think it will really change what of lot of kids think of as possible for themselves and the world.

Jody said...

It is hard. I mean, how do you explain Hitler to your kids?? That a human being/beings could be so cold and evil.

My kids watched a special on MLK day about him and they simply could not understand the concept of treating people of different skin color differently...it is just not something that is part of their lives and I thank God for that.

I feared for Obama as well. I was a bit afraid to have my kids watch the inauguration for fear some idiot would hurt him. Thank God nothing like that has happened. I pray for his safety and that of his family. Having said that, after the passing of the Porkulous bill, I would like to throw a pie in his face, but that is strictly because I disagree with his policies.

Troy-Michelle Reinhardt said...

Tricia,
Do you remember when we were in school and you and I talking about a class I took and the arguement I had with another student about how many of us - no matter how much we think we're not racist - really still have preconcieved notions that have somehow been ingrained in us by society - tv whatever? You and I talked about it at length. You got very angry and said that the student who was angry was right - the preconcieved notions are wrong. I tried to point out that I never said they were right but that didn't prevent them from being there - that we all just needed to be aware of them so we as a society could work to reverse them. That's the first thing that came to mind when I saw your post - was that debate from some 20 odd years ago. Your family is all about reverseing those. The messages your friends who have posted are sending their children are all about reversing them. It's not about being color blind as much as it about seeing "human kind" (In my ever so humble opinion.) I try and tell my kids it's not about igonoring someone's color/race/religion/sexuality - it's about not judging them by it. It's about not forming an opinion because of it. We should be looking at eachother as humans who are all paddling against the same current - together.
OKay - now I'm just getting really preachy - so I'll sign off here. Basically this is just another biased white girl outlook! :-)

Tricia said...

Troy- I have no memory of that conversation- my memory is horrid. However, what I like most is that obviously I have done a 360. That gives me hope that others can learn, as I have.

Meritt said...

Actually, white people were slaves as well. I love to learn and study history and about 8 (9?) years ago I was trying to learn as much as I could about this topic. Your local library is a great source of information! :)